Wise and PayPal are two convenient options for sending an online money transfer, but which one will net you a better deal on your next transfer?
To find out, we'll compare Wise and PayPal side by side to see who offers the lowest fees, the best exchange rates and the fastest transfer speeds.
The fees and rates used in this comparison are accurate as of 6 February 2023.
Which has lower fees?
Wise's fee is usually a combination of a small percentage of your transaction amount (typically ranging from 0.35% to 1.5%) plus a flat fee. Wise relies on transfer fees to make a profit, for example if you're exchanging $10,000 AUD into GBP, you'll pay a flat fee of 0.66 AUD and 0.45% of the amount converted. On their website, they claim to be up to 7 times cheaper than banks.
Bank transfers are cheaper than paying with a credit or debit card.
PayPal's fee structure is quite complicated. The amount you pay depends on your transfer amount and whether you pay for the transaction with your PayPal balance, bank account or credit/debit card.
If paying for your transfer from your PayPal balance or bank account, PayPal's international transfer fees can be quite competitive. However, fees quickly add up if paying with your credit/debit card, and the complicated fee structure can be difficult to understand.
Wise also offers minimal fees for most transactions, and offers a handy online tool to help you calculate the total cost of your transaction.
Compare fees between the two providers for your specific transaction to find the best value for money.
Let's crunch the numbers: Sending $50 and $1,000 to the UK
Let's take a closer look at how Wise and PayPal compare when sending two different amounts to the UK. In this example, we'll assume the PayPal transaction will be funded from your bank account and the Wise transaction paid for with a bank transfer.
Sending $50 to the UK
|Exchange rate||1 AUD = 0.57451 GBP||1 AUD = 0.5515 GBP|
|Transfer speed||1-2 days||Instant|
|Amount received (in GBP)||£28.22||£25.92|
As you can see, your recipient will receive £2.30 more with Wise as PayPal's fees are higher and they add a 4% margin onto the exchange rate.
Sending $1000 to the UK
|Exchange rate||1 AUD = 0.5744 GBP||1 AUD = 0.5515 GBP|
|Transfer speed||1-2 days||Instant|
|Amount received (in GBP)||£571.54||£548.19|
Wise is a clear winner in this second comparison, your beneficiary receives an extra £23.35. As the sending amount increases, Wise offers a more cost-effective transfer.
Which offers better exchange rates?
Wise offers international money transfers using the mid-market exchange rate. This is the rate which you see listed on Google and sites like Xe, and it represents the real market value of one currency relative to another. For example, if the mid-market rate is 1 AUD = 0.7130 USD, that's the rate you'll get for your transfer.
PayPal adds a margin on top of the mid-market rate. While this margin is typically smaller than that offered by the banks, it's generally around the 3.5-4% range.
Using the same example as we did for Wise:
- If the mid-market rate is 1 AUD = 0.7130 USD
- PayPal's rate might be 1 AUD = 0.6876 USD
Wise's exchange rates are much better than those offered by PayPal, which means more of the money you send arrives in your recipient's bank account.
Which is faster
Transfer times vary depending on the currency you send and the payment method you select.
While most transactions take between 1 and 2 business days, it's possible to send funds to some destinations within minutes.
Your recipient should be able to access the funds you send to their PayPal account almost immediately. However, please note that if the recipient doesn't want to leave this balance in their PayPal account, withdrawing to their bank account will take one or more business days.
PayPal transfers are generally faster – but only if your recipient is happy to spend the money you send directly from their PayPal account. If they want it sitting in their bank account, you may find that Wise will get the money there quicker.
|Payment methods||Receiving options||Minimum and maximum transfers||Transfer speeds||Currencies|
|Within minutes||52 currencies|
|24 hours||25 currencies|
While Wise offers a handy fee and exchange rate calculator on its website, you'll need to sign up for a Wise account before you can make a transfer. You can then initiate a transfer by specifying the amount and currency you want to send and providing your recipient's bank account details.
You'll receive email updates throughout the transfer process and can track your transaction online or using the Wise app.
Before you can send money overseas with PayPal, both you and your recipient will need to have your own PayPal accounts. You can then link your bank account or credit/debit card to your PayPal account to fund your transaction.
To send a transfer, enter the email address or phone number of your recipient. You will then have to enter the details of your transaction, specify the reason why you are sending funds, and then take a moment to review the full cost of your transaction before submitting your transfer.
Wise generally offers much better value for money than PayPal on international transfers. While fee amounts often work out fairly similar between the two companies when paying from your bank account, Wise's commitment to offering the mid-market rate means that more of the money you send will end up in your recipient's pocket.
While PayPal can be useful when sending a small amount or when you need to make a quick transfer, Wise usually comes out on top.
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